Efforts toward diversity, equity, and inclusion

Our differences make us stronger

We strive to welcome all races, identities, genders, religions, perspectives, and life experiences into our community, to empower all to speak freely, and to hear all voices.  In doing this we are doing our best to change the world.



Aero's Space to Belong

A  committee of faculty, staff, and students was charged in 2021 to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the department and Aero's Space to Belong was created.  Its purpose is to enhance the feeling of community, belonging, and trust within the Aerospace Engineering department. There is a response subcommittee to help resolve conflict within the department.

      Special Events       Reporting Responding Reconciling

What do we mean by...

Diversity refers to all aspects of human difference, social identities, and social group differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, socio-economic status, language, culture, national origin, religion/spirituality, age, (dis)ability, and military/veteran status, political perspective, and associational preferences.



Equity refers to fair and just practices and policies that ensure all campus community members can thrive. equity is different than equality in that equality implies treating everyone as if their experiences are exactly the same. Being equitable means acknowledging and addressing structural inequalities — historic and current — that advantage some and disadvantage others. Equal treatment results in equity only if everyone starts with equal access to opportunities.

Inclusion refers to a campus community where all members are and feel respected, have a sense of belonging, and are able to participate and achieve to their potential. Although diversity is essential, it is not sufficient. an institution can be both diverse and non-inclusive at the same time, thus a sustained practice of creating inclusive environments is necessary.

A Q and A on diversity with Dept. Head Jonathan Freund

Dept. Head Jonathan Freund

Why is diversity valuable in academia and in STEM?

I see two main costs when we fail---in any way---to be diverse.

As a leadership institution, Illinois does world-leading research and trains future leaders to impact technology and society.  Both are done best when we draw on the broadest possible pool of talent in aerospace engineering. This means welcoming recruiting from every race, country, disability, religion, gender, and orientation.

If anyone feels unwelcome, it is unlikely they will achieve their potential, which is a missed opportunity for the department, the university, and the society we serve.  A diverse environment is one of the best ways to foster a sense of inclusion that allows realization of personal potential.

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Diversity Committee Contacts

Theresa Saxton-Fox

Tess Saxton-Fox
Committee Chair

Melkior Ornik

Melkior Ornik


john lambros

John Lambros


Laura Gerhold

Laura Gerhold


Debra Levey Larson

Debra Levey Larson